My dear, sweet wife and I have spent the last five years getting ready. My mother had a saying that I remember from when I was a little kid. I once asked mom when she was going to make some cupcakes or cookies or other equally sweet treat while she was reading. She looked up at me and said, “Well, soon…” and I persisted. She replied, “Ok, I’m fixin’ to begin to commence to start, I’ll let you know when they are done.”
I happily went on my way thinking I’d convinced mom to get those treats done. Several hours later I wandered back into the house and didn’t smell cookies baking. I was disappointed, but I started to learn about patience. I’m still learning patience today. In fact, I’m to the point where I don’t yell and scream at the bozo in front of me on the street that’s going 20 miles under the speed limit. I might cuss him under my breath now, but I don’t yell as much out loud as I used to do. My wife however says I still have none. But I do…..
It has taken every ounce of patience to get to where we are today, five long, tough years of sticking to our written plan. Getting our bills paid off, getting “off the credit card dole” (you all know that free money the government is using day in and day out that they don’t have? We don’t have to worry about OUR credit cards now, only the government’s credit!) We have been putting away money, close to 20% of our monthly income. That money is being used to update and upgrade our home so we can sell the old place. We have nearly a new house from the “keel up”. New windows, new flooring, new paint inside and out, new gutters, new bathroom, new carpet, new doors and frames, new trim and new tile in the basement family area. We even have newer appliances in the kitchen. Last year a new hot tub went in, and I replaced most of the deck boards. We added a closet to JoAnne’s office (we called it a Library) in the basement so we now have five bedrooms in the house.
The “Plan” has come almost to completion. The next step is to put the house on the market which seems to be picking up in our area, cross out fingers and hope we can get the best price given the market. The step after that…. we’re a little unclear about. We have been flexible about everything and we will be flexible about all our future plans. We might move in temporally with our daughter, or we might pick up a small camper trailer and put that at the daughter’s place to keep us out of their hair, then we might keep it at our own home while it’s on the market and just move in there for during the selling process (it is, after all nearly spring, except for the cold winds here in Colorado in mid March….sigh) or we might get the home sold fast!
We have several options though. Patience is proving to be virtue. But, the following story explains why I’m becoming a cruiser. In the “real world” where we live day in and day out you take things as they come. In the cruising world (which I have barely sampled thus far) I have already noticed you can simply ignore people when they are really getting on your nerves. You don’t feed the animals, as they say, or the trolls (on the internet) because if you do, they get bigger, stronger and more powerful. I totally forgot that lesson somewhere along the way. The guy below is why I am becoming a cruiser. Just to prove him wrong.
In the middle of all this a few weeks ago a colleague asked me about our plans. He thought that perhaps I was clueless and couldn’t answer his questions I think. Throughout the last five years my wife and I have gladly answered questions about what we’re planning. We even went against some very good advice to “keep quiet, don’t tell anyone, they will try to ruin it for you!” due to, we assume jealousy, or just wanting to be party poopers. I’ve never been one to let people poop on my party though, so we’ve continued to say “We will do this and that, we have a plan, and things are coming together”. I guess no one warned me about the Perpetual Party Pooping Pessimist though. Usually when someone asks what can be perceived as a “dumb question” one continues on and answers the question because for many years I was told “There’s no such thing as a dumb question.” Unfortunately, this isn’t true, and I just didn’t know that it wasn’t true, I believed the rhetoric!
The following individual spent the ten minutes we were talking not asking me questions, but telling me all the ways I would fail. His initial question was, “Hey, I heard you plan to retire to a boat! How’s that going?”
When I started to tell him, I couldn’t even finish a sentence before he would tell me how it wasn’t going to work. For instance, I said, “Well, things are going good. We got rid of all our bills!”
He responded with, “Well, you can’t really do that, there’s always going to be bills. You have to pay for internet, cable, telephones, electricity, water, gas and there’s your mortgage!”
“I’m selling the house; I won’t have a mortgage, electric or cable bills or water or gas bills. I won’t even have to pay property taxes then…,” he interrupts me before I can finish the thought or statement.
“Of course you’ll pay property taxes; you are buying a YACHT after all! Those are expensive and you have either saved a lot of money which I doubt with YOUR job or you’re embezzling it,” he says.
“Embezzling? What?” the whole idea of paying property taxes on an “expensive yacht” was missed by me completely with the accusation.
“You have to have a house someplace, where you going to live????”
“On a boat,” I calmly tell him.
“You can’t live on a boat in the United States; you have to have an address! You have to pay your taxes! You have to have a domicile! That’s a law or something… isn’t it?”
“I’m not really sure it’s a law,” I say working desperately to maintain my ‘patience’. Before I could say anything else, he interrupted again.
“So you’re going to just jump on a boat and sail to some Caribbean Islands? You’re going to LIVE on a boat? Does your wife go along with this? I mean, what about Pirates!” he tries a new tack. He’s on my starboard side, I’ve got the right-of-way I think so I stand on.
“It was my wife’s idea. There’s no pirates in the Caribbean save the occasional thief…”
“Your wife’s idea, I can’t believe that. And you’re going to go along with this? What about sharks?”
“Sharks?” I question.
“Sure, are you sure she’s not just trying to do you in? Feed you to the sharks for the insurance money?”
“What insurance money?” I ask.
“NO INSURANCE?! How can you not have life insurance? That’s like a sin or something, and I think there’s a law that covers that too!”
“I think you’re thinking of Obamacare. I won’t have that either,” I stamp my foot, clench my fists now.
“Well, there’s another thing? How are you going to pay for the new healthcare laws, you have to pay your fair share!?”
Finally, defeated, my patience gone and my forearm muscles cramping because of the fist-clench I smile at him in a psychotic sort of wild eyed grin and say, “I’m not. I’m taking all my guns with me, collecting the worst dregs of humans I can and we’ll be raiding the whole coast of Florida, writing Spanish graffiti all over every dock to make them think Spanish pirates are alive and well. I’ll just murder those old people and take their EBT cards, their welfare checks, and I’ll steal the fuel from hapless vessels I will hull with my cannons and machine guns. I’ll take all the women and put them to work in the galley so my wife and do her job of cutting the balls off of every man that asks a stupid question of me again! YARRRRR!” I yell into his face.
He just grinned and said, “You can’t carry guns on a boat! There’s an international law against it! Those old ladies don’t have EBT cards. They live on their pensions…. And I don’t think anyone will believe there are Spanish pirates in the Caribbean… and where did YOU get a machine gun anyway?”
I finally rolled by eyes and walked away. I guess even a cynic can’t remember when he contradicts himself.
Yeah, patience is a virtue. He’s still alive… for now. Until I get the cannons…. YARRRR!
The truth is I want to get away from the rat race and people like that, I want to spend the rest of my life at a slower pace. Driving at 60 or sailing at 6 knots is an option I can ill afford to pass up. Considering all of the problems and learning curve that went with learning to sail (and of course I’ve only just learned it a few years ago – you continue learning for the rest of your life I’ve found out) it is still going to be less difficult on my blood pressure dealing with mechanical issues, weather windows and lumpy seas than it will dealing with the guy from the foregoing conversation. The conversation happened almost exactly as related above. The problem is this person does exist in various maturation stages. He exists about individual rights. He exists where it comes to controlling other people.
This particular person I’ve found over time is a very vehement anti-gun person. He apparently is hateful of those he perceives as “wealthy”. Knowing that he makes more money than me (and he knows this simply because of our job types, I’m a maintenance-worker-electronics type and he’s a thinking-scientist-type who got his degree in some big school while I spent thirty years in college never actually finished a degree; especially not a liberal arts degree) makes him “better than me”. He can neither afford to retire early, nor would he ever consider doing it on a “boat”. He has this belief that I’ll be on some house boat hanging my laundry on the clothes line and out putting my (hard earned I’ll add) savings in some “offshore bank” avoiding paying “my fair share”.
The truth is a person like this knows nothing at all about guns. He knows less about yachts. He knows even less about the Constitution. He certainly knows nothing of freedoms and individual liberties and believes that the individual exists to SERVE his government, to pay his ‘fair share’ so the rest can live instead of understanding that it was people like me, serving in the military that gave him the right to be a complete moron.
Dad used to tell me that you can be the most well-read (Book-learned he called them) person in the world but without “horse sense” (the phrase Dad used to indicate “common sense”) you were dumber than a rock. If you couldn’t put that Horse Sense to work and think out a problem with or without book-learnin’ then you were worthless as a person. Dad used to put us to the test all the time. Without teaching us something, he’d ask us to try. When we didn’t get it right, he’d walk us through it simply and carefully explaining how to come to a solution, all without teaching us the nuts and bolts of the problem.
Years later when I became a teacher (and still believed in “No such thing as a dumb question”) I used that same technique to train people to troubleshoot. They had a minimal knowledge of a radio for instance and I’d work on them, getting them to think through what they knew and what was happening, even to guess (accurately usually) what might be happening to a signal. Once they got the hang of a very simple circuit or a problem, the solution came easily.
My “friend” was a guy who could not, or would not for some reason even listen to a response before moving to the next question and impressing upon me just what a problem I’m going to have counting on myself “out there”. I’ve had similar conversations with him about the same subject and it occurred to me that these Perpetual Party Pooping Pessimists don’t really CARE if you explain the answer, help them figure out the solution, or just give them answer. They want it their way, they want to be right all the time and they don’t give a crap what YOU want or if you have figured out the solution.
I suppose they are even in the cruising community (I know they are, I’m not kidding myself, I’ve met them on bulletin board systems, forums, in chat rooms and email. They are the same folks I know I’m trying to get away from. Here at work, daily, driving around me, in the grocery store, I have to put up with them with a smile, or make them leave me alone with the “crazy look”. Out there, they are dangerous people.
When my patience wears thin, I have to remember I rely on no one but myself and my wife, and she relies on herself and me. We’re a team and we’ve been one for over thirty-five years now. We get along and see eye-to-eye on almost everything (except politics, which we aren’t taking with us). We will both smile and move along when we run into those people.
So… why am I becoming a cruiser? I’m doing it to get away from the Rat Race, to live life on MY terms, to count on ME, to do or die. That’s why.